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Dogs hold a beloved place in the hearts and homes of many people, and it can be easy to let down your caution when dealing with animals you encounter frequently. Unfortunately, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), over four million people are bitten each year by dogs in the United States, and it is not only breeds that are large or considered aggressive that are prone to biting. The AVMA advises that even a dog you are familiar or friendly with can pose a threat in certain situations or when approached the wrong way. Common causes of dog bites include:

  • When a dog feels threatened;
  • To defend itself or its owner against a perceived threat;
  • In response to being scared or startled;
  • When under stress or in a new environment;
  • When a dog is hungry or thirsty;
  • When a dog is sick or is suffering an injury.

Changes in routines or schedule, talking in loud voices, and approaching too rapidly are all simple, common reasons why an otherwise friendly dog can choose to bite.

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If you are bitten by a dog, it is important to get medical attention immediately, regardless of how severe you think your injury is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the popular notion that a dog’s mouth is actually cleaner than a human’s could not be further from the truth. There are over 60 different types of bacteria that can be present in a dog’s mouth, and roughly one out of every five dog bites eventually become infected. In addition to the threat of rabies and infections, common types of dog bite injuries include:  

  • Serious lacerations and puncture wounds,
  • Torn muscles and tendons;
  • Broken bones;
  • Nerve damage;
  • Scarring and disfigurement;
  • Psychological trauma, including anxiety, sleep disturbances, and depression.






1. Seek Professional Medical Assistance

dog bite injury victim seeking medical advice
It is imperative that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Of course, this is particularly important if you require emergency medical treatment, but all dog bites need to be taken seriously. Dog-related injuries are at high risk of becoming infected. In fact, according to data published by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, subcutaneous infection is the number one reason why dog bite victims require overnight hospitalization. These infections are very dangerous. If a dog has punctured your skin, get yourself checked out now.  

2. Gather Key Details

gathering details and taking notes of incident
After receiving any necessary emergency medical care, you should take steps to gather some information related to your attack. Specifically, you should look for:

  • The name and address of the dog’s owner;
  • The identity of the person who was caring for the dog at the time of the attack;
  • The location where the incident occurred; and
  • Personal identifying information of any witnesses.

3. Contact an Attorney

speaking with an injury attorney
Finally, you should speak to an experienced Toledo dog bite lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to ensure that your legal rights and financial interests are fully protected. This begins with making sure that you receive proper medical treatment. Your lawyer will also see to it that your treatment is properly document. Without extensive official documentation, you will likely have a difficult time proving the full extent of your damages. Additionally, your lawyer will handle the insurance company. In Ohio, most dog attacks are covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely willingly offer victims fair settlements. If they think they can get away with a lowball offer, they will try to do it. They may even try to deny liability entirely. Let our team use our skills and experience to hold the insurance company accountable.

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Under Ohio law, dog owners are held strictly liable for any injuries caused by their animal. This means that unlike most injury claims, you do not necessarily need to prove that a dog owner was negligent in order to recover compensation. Instead, you can recover compensation if you can prove the following three things:

  • You were actually injured by the dog;
  • You were not trespassing at the time of the attack; and
  • You did not provoke the dog into attacking you.


Toledo dog attack victims are entitled to recover compensation for the full extent of their injuries. Specifically, our attorneys may be able to help you seek damages for:

  • Emergency room expenses;
  • Any other medical expenses;
  • Physical rehabilitation expenses;
  • Necessary therapy or other mental health treatment;
  • Lost income, including anticipated lost future earning power;
  • Pain and suffering:
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Loss of life enjoyment; and
  • Punitive damages.


The Dog Didn’t Bite Me but Knocked Me Over; Can I Sue?

Yes. A dog owner is liable to someone who is injured by their dog, not simply when the dog bites someone. If a dog knocks you or a child down and you suffer injuries, you can bring a lawsuit. Of course, you might need to present different types of evidence to succeed in your case, but you can talk that over with your attorney.

What Are the Signs of Infection?

Dog bites can easily become infected, which can cause serious injury and possibly death. There are many germs in a dog’s mouth that can be transplanted directly into your bloodstream. Cleaning a wound thoroughly is the best way to prevent infection.

However, if you might have an infection if you notice that the area around the dog bite is red, raised, or hot to the touch. A wound that starts leaking puss is also probably infected.

Go to the doctor immediately. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Remember to take the full cycle of antibiotics so that the infection does not become resistant and return to the doctor if you do not feel better.

Should I Be Worried About Rabies?

Rabies is rare, but is still a valid concern, nevertheless. This is why you should notify animal control, so they can quarantine the dog and monitor it for signs of rabies. Animal control can also check the dog’s vaccination history.

Unless your bite was entirely superficial, you should ask a doctor about getting the rabies vaccine. This can provide the necessary protection. Without treatment, almost 100% of people die of rabies, so take this seriously.

Can I Sue if a Dog Attacked My Dog?

Possibly. Your dog is your property, so it is considered a “chattel.” When someone interferes with your chattels, you can possibly sue for damages. If another dog mauls your dog, you might be able to sue for compensation to cover the medical care that your dog needs. Consult an attorney for more information.

Are Pit Bulls More Dangerous Than Other Breeds?

At Groth & Associates, we love all dogs. We don’t believe there is a “bad” breed that people should avoid. However, there are statistics which show that pit bulls do commit a higher percentage of attacks when compared to other breeds. In fact, one study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that pit bulls were responsible for 51% of attacks.

Does this mean pit bulls are dangerous? Maybe not. Other people have argued persuasively that pit bull owners like to encourage their dogs to be aggressive, so it should not be surprising if pit bulls end up causing more serious injuries.

Whatever the truth, we would encourage people to be cautious around all dog breeds, even the smallest chihuahua. If you want to pet a dog, ask the owner if it is okay before approaching. Also keep small children from running toward dogs, which can excite even the calmest breed.

What is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite?

We don’t have exact figures. However, most settlements are probably paid out of a homeowner’s insurance policy. And the Insurance Information Institute has found that the average settlement paid was $39,017 in 2018. It has gone up year over year, so it should continue to increase.

Of course, an “average” settlement amount doesn’t tell us anything about your case. Your injuries might be more serious than average, or your injuries could be comparatively less serious. Instead of worrying about the average, focus on how much you can receive for your particular losses.

Can I Negotiate My Own Settlement With an Insurance Company?

You could, but it is probably a bad idea. Many people think that settling an insurance claim is as easy as filling out a couple of forms and then cashing a check. Unfortunately, reality is far different.

Insurance companies have grown so large because they are always looking out for their bottom line. An insurance company makes money by accepting premium payments and then trying to deny as many claims as possible. We have heard of dog attack injury victims submitting claims, only to have an insurance company deny the claim outright by arguing that the victim provoked the dog. Or the insurer believes that a claimant is exaggerating their injuries, so they offer a very low settlement.

Negotiating effectively takes time and commitment. It also requires that you understand the different tricks that insurance companies use. At Groth & Associates, we have decades of combined experience handling insurance claims. We can effectively negotiate a favorable settlement for you.

Isn’t a Toledo Dog Bite Attorney Too Expensive? I Don’t Have the Money to Hire Someone.

We take dog bite cases on contingency, which means we do not charge our clients attorneys’ fees up front. Instead, you agree to give us a percentage of any settlement or jury verdict in your favor. Typically, attorneys take between 33 and 40%, depending on when the dog bite case is resolved.

If we don’t win your case, then we don’t get any attorney’s fees. This type of arrangement is called “no win, no fee” for that reason. There is little risk in hiring an attorney on contingency.

Our clients are responsible for some of the costs of the litigation, such as filing fees and deposition costs. But we can discuss those with you at the start of your case.

My Neighbor is Claiming I Was Trespassing When His Dog Bit Me, but I Was Going Over for a Social Visit. Can I Sue?

You probably can. Ohio’s law does not allow dog bite victims to receive compensation if they were criminally trespassing under Ohio law. But simply going next door to visit a neighbor is not criminal offense unless there were signs put up telling people not to enter the property. If you have a history of visiting your neighbor, then this strengthens your case that you had a license to go onto the property to make a social visit.


At Groth & Associates, we understand the serious and often permanent damages that can result from a dog bite or attack. Contact our Toledo personal injury lawyers today for professional legal advice on how to get the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and lingering disabilities caused by your injury. We can assist you in holding responsible parties accountable for the damages you have suffered, while making sure your rights and interests are protected. When it comes to protecting your health and your future well-being, you need the kind of legal help that gets results.


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